Paul's Passing Thoughts

What Your Sanctification Says About Your Justification: Is Your Gospel True or False?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on August 10, 2016

Originally published February 27, 2015

“No false religion teaches that you earn your justification by perfect law-keeping—there is always a system that prescribes sanctified do’s and don’ts that in turn fulfill the law for you, otherwise known as ‘the traditions of men.’”

What do you believe about salvation? Your Christian life will tell you. Therefore, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 should not confuse us. The “wicked” servant was not cast into outer darkness because he didn’t put his talents to work, but rather what he thought it meant to be a servant. In other words, in order to be saved, you need to know what a Christian is. That should be fairly evident.

Do you live your Christian life by “faith alone”? That is a statement in regard to what you believe about salvation, or what happened to justify you; viz, justification.

This is not complicated. Don’t complain that I am making your touchy-feely “simple” gospel a theological treatise. I am sure you concur that some Bible words have to be understood in order to be saved. The Bible splits humanity into two categories: saved and unsaved; i.e., “under law” or “under grace” (Romans 6:14).

“Under law” is the biblical nomenclature for the unregenerate lost. Under law means that sin rules you. Not in a plenary sense, because man’s conscience and fear of punishment from civilian law restrains people. Yet, they are under the condemnation of God’s law and every violation is documented. Unless they are saved, they will be judged according to their works in the final judgment. Though some who followed their conscience more than others will receive a lesser condemnation, it is still eternal separation from God. They are under law, and enslaved to sin. The last judgment DOES NOT determine justification; it ONLY determines the degree of eternal condemnation. It doesn’t determine justification; it only determines the wages of sin.

Moreover, sin uses the condemnation of the law to provoke people to sin. Primarily, sin uses desires to tempt people, but sin’s incentive is the law because it condemns. Sin lives for the purpose of condemning people, and uses desire to get people to sin against God’s law. This leads to present and eternal death. Sin’s desire is to bring death. When the Bible speaks of “the desires of the flesh” it is referring to instances when the flesh is serving the desires of sin.

The flesh can also be used to serve the desires of the Spirit (Romans 12:1). The flesh has NO desires; it is used by the dweller for good or evil purposes. We will either use our bodies to serve the desires of sin or the desires of the Spirit. Of course, people have their own desires, but unfortunately, the unregenerate are guided by the desires of sin. They assume sinful desires are their own desire which is true. In contrast, sinful desires are not part and parcel with the regenerate soul.

Said another way: among the lost, the desires of sin are very much the same desires possessed by the individual who are indifferent to the law of God. A desire for God’s law is absent while their life is continually building a death and condemnation dividend. Some of that dividend is paid in this life until the full wages of death are paid at the final judgment.

Under grace is not void of law. The law (same as “Scripture” or same as “Bible”) has a different relationship to the saved, or those under grace. A literal baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place, as symbolized in water baptism, which puts to death the old person under law and resurrects the new person under grace. The saved person is now a new creature created by the Spirit of God. The person under grace is literally born of God—he/she is God’s literal offspring.

Therefore, the old person is no longer under the condemnation of the law in the same way a dead person cannot be brought under indictment for a crime. Consequently, the motivation for sin is gone. The power of sin is the law’s condemnation that leads to death (1Corintians 15:56, 57). In addition, the person under grace has been given a new heart that loves God’s law and its way of life. The book that could only bring death is now a book that brings life. Either way, it is the Spirit’s law; He uses it to condemn those that are under it, or uses it to sanctify those who are under grace (John 17:17).

THEREFORE, how you see the law determines what you believe about salvation. If you believe that you can somehow obey the law in a way that unwittingly seeks to be justified by law-keeping, you are still under law. If you believe justification is defined by perfect law-keeping, you are still under law. Those who believe this also believe they need a salvation system that filters all their works into a category of faith alone. The Christian life is categorized or departmentalized into works that attempt to be counted for justification and faith alone works that qualify as “living by faith alone.” Do not miss the point that this also includes abstaining from certain things that aren’t necessarily sin as defined by the Bible.

Yes, hypothetically, a person would need to keep the law perfectly to be justified by the law, but that doesn’t make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. If that were the case, the law is a co-life-giver with the Holy Spirit, and a death would not be necessary. We are justified APART from the law—law has NO part in justification. The Bible defines justification, but it’s not a standard of justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 2:19, 4:21). Law-keeping by anyone does not justify.

If one is trusting in a system that fulfills the law for justification, particularly if it calls for not doing something in order that the law is fulfilled in our place, that is works salvation through some kind of intentionality whether passive or active. These kinds of systems are always indicative of being under law rather than under grace. One such system that has several variances calls for doing certain things or not doing certain things on the Sabbath which can be Saturday or Sunday depending on the stripe of system. If you follow the system on the Sabbath, all works done by you during the week are considered to be by faith alone.

In Reformed theology, particularly authentic Calvinism, contemplation on your sin leading to a return to the same gospel that saved you imputes the perfect law-keeping of Christ to your life. Notice that a fulfillment of the law is required to keep you saved, but we do faith alone works in order that Christ’s perfect law-keeping is imputed to our account. The problem here is that a fulfillment of the so-called “righteous demands of the law” is the standard for justification. Hence, clearly, this keeps so-called “Christians” UNDER LAW. In addition, a so-called faith alone work is still a work.

Not so with under grace. We are now free to follow our new desire to obey the law out of love without fear of condemnation. The law is the standard for love, not justification. In all of the aforementioned systems of sanctified justification by works, faith doesn’t work (or love) because it can’t lest salvation be lost. In the Christian life (sanctification) faith works because it can for the sake of love without condemnation (Galatians 5:6).

Knowing that justification is a settled issue that has nothing to do with the law anyway, the true Christian only sees law-keeping as an opportunity to love. Christians not only have the anthropologic law of conscience written on the heart, the new birth writes the Bible there as well. In other words, they love the law. Obviously, those who must focus on faith alone works in order to remain justified cannot focus on aggressive obedience to the law that defines love.

This is exactly what the books of James and 1John are about. Faith is not afraid to work because there is no condemnation. Faith without works is dead, “being alone” (James 2:17 KJV).

Are you in a religious system that propagates faith “alone” in the Christian life? Your faith is not only dead, it speaks to what you believe about justification. You believe justification has a progressive aspect and is not completely finished. Secondly, you believe the law has a stake in justification. Thirdly, your system categorizes works as faith alone works (an oxymoron of sorts) or works that are unfiltered in some way and therefore are efforts to “self-justify.”

If you believe the right gospel, you know that it is impossible to unwittingly partake in an endeavor to justify yourself. It’s a metaphysical impossibility—it’s not in the realm of reality. No false religion teaches that you earn your justification by perfect law-keeping—there is always a system that prescribes sanctified do’s and don’ts that in turn fulfill the law for you, otherwise known as “the traditions of men.”

It’s the fallacy of faith alone works for justification. But any work for justification is justification by works whether doing nothing (abstinence is still doing something), something passive (contemplationism or prayer is also a work) or anything active.

Law and justification are mutually exclusive, and true faith is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith works because there is no fear in love (1John 4:18). Don’t be like the servant who was afraid and hid his talents in the ground. Christ said it best:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

paul

What Your Sanctification Says About Your Justification: Is Your Gospel True or False?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on March 29, 2016

Originally posted February 27, 2015

PPT HandleWhat do you believe about salvation? Your Christian life will tell you. Therefore, the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 should not confuse us. The “wicked” servant was not cast into outer darkness because he didn’t put his talents to work, but rather what he thought it meant to be a servant. In other words, in order to be saved, you need to know what a Christian is. That should be fairly evident.

Do you live your Christian life by “faith alone”? That is a statement in regard to what you believe about salvation, or what happened to justify you, viz, justification.

This is not complicated. Don’t complain that I am making your touchy-feely “simple” gospel a theological treatise. I am sure you concur that some Bible words have to be understood in order to be saved. The Bible splits humanity into two categories: saved and unsaved, i.e., “under law” or “under grace” (Romans 6:14).

“Under law” is the biblical nomenclature for the unregenerate lost. Under law means that sin rules you. Not in a plenary sense, because man’s conscience and fear of punishment from civilian law restrains people. Yet, they are under the condemnation of God’s law and every violation is documented. Unless they are saved, they will be judged according to their works in the final judgment. Though some who followed their conscience more than others will receive a lesser condemnation, it is still eternal separation from God. They are under law, and enslaved to sin. The last judgment DOES NOT determine justification; it ONLY determines the degree of eternal condemnation. It doesn’t determine justification; it only determines the wages of sin.

Moreover, sin uses the condemnation of the law to provoke people to sin. Primarily, sin uses desires to tempt people, but sin’s incentive is the law because it condemns. Sin lives for the purpose of condemning people, and uses desire to get people to sin against God’s law. This leads to present and eternal death. Sin’s desire is to bring death. When the Bible speaks of “the desires of the flesh” it is referring to instances when the flesh is serving the desires of sin.

The flesh can also be used to serve the desires of the Spirit (Romans 12:1). The flesh has NO desires; it is used by the dweller for good or evil purposes. We will either use our bodies to serve the desires of sin or the desires of the Spirit. Of course, people have their own desires, but unfortunately, the unregenerate are guided by the desires of sin. They assume sinful desires are their own desire which is true. In contrast, sinful desires are not part and parcel with the regenerate soul.

Said another way: among the lost, the desires of sin are very much the same desires possessed by the individual who are indifferent to the law of God. A desire for God’s law is absent while their life is continually building a death and condemnation dividend. Some of that dividend is paid in this life until the full wages of death are paid at the final judgment.

Under grace is not void of law. The law (same as “Scripture” or same as “Bible”) has a different relationship to the saved, or those under grace. A literal baptism of the Holy Spirit takes place, as symbolized in water baptism, which puts to death the old person under law and resurrects the new person under grace. The saved person is now a new creature created by the Spirit of God. The person under grace is literally born of God—he/she is God’s literal offspring.

Therefore, the old person is no longer under the condemnation of the law in the same way a dead person cannot be brought under indictment for a crime. Consequently, the motivation for sin is gone. The power of sin is the law’s condemnation that leads to death (1Corintians 15:56, 57). In addition, the person under grace has been given a new heart that loves God’s law and its way of life. The book that could only bring death is now a book that brings life. Either way, it is the Spirit’s law; He uses it to condemn those that are under it, or uses it to sanctify those who are under grace (John 17:17).

THEREFORE, how you see the law determines what you believe about salvation. If you believe that you can somehow obey the law in a way that unwittingly seeks to be justified by law-keeping, you are still under law. If you believe justification is defined by perfect law-keeping, you are still under law. Those who believe this also believe they need a salvation system that filters all their works into a category of faith alone. The Christian life is categorized or departmentalized into works that attempt to be counted for justification and faith alone works that qualify as “living by faith alone.” Do not miss the point that this also includes abstaining from certain things that aren’t necessarily sin as defined by the Bible.

Yes, hypothetically, a person would need to keep the law perfectly to be justified by the law, but that doesn’t make perfect law-keeping the standard for righteousness. If that were the case, the law is a co-life-giver with the Holy Spirit, and a death would not be necessary. We are justified APART from the law—law has NO part in justification. The Bible defines justification, but it’s not a standard of justification (Rom 3:21, Gal 2:19, 4:21). Law-keeping by anyone does not justify.

If one is trusting in a system that fulfills the law for justification, particularly if it calls for not doing something in order that the law is fulfilled in our place, that is works salvation through some kind of intentionality whether passive or active. These kinds of systems are always indicative of being under law rather than under grace. One such system that has several variances calls for doing certain things or not doing certain things on the Sabbath which can be Saturday or Sunday depending on the stripe of system. If you follow the system on the Sabbath, all works done by you during the week are considered to be by faith alone.

In Reformed theology, particularly authentic Calvinism, contemplation on your sin leading to a return to the same gospel that saved you imputes the perfect law-keeping of Christ to your life. Notice that a fulfillment of the law is required to keep you saved, but we do faith alone works in order that Christ’s perfect law-keeping is imputed to our account. The problem here is that a fulfillment of the so-called “righteous demands of the law” is the standard for justification. Hence, clearly, this keeps so-called “Christians” UNDER LAW. In addition, a so-called faith alone work is still a work.

Not so with under grace. We are now free to follow our new desire to obey the law out of love without fear of condemnation. The law is the standard for love, not justification. In all of the aforementioned systems of sanctified justification by works, faith doesn’t work (or love) because it can’t lest salvation be lost. In the Christian life (sanctification) faith works because it can for the sake of love without condemnation (Galatians 5:6).

Knowing that justification is a settled issue that has nothing to do with the law anyway, the true Christian only sees law-keeping as an opportunity to love. Christians not only have the anthropologic law of conscience written on the heart, the new birth writes the Bible there as well. In other words, they love the law. Obviously, those who must focus on faith alone works in order to remain justified cannot focus on aggressive obedience to the law that defines love.

This is exactly what the books of James and 1John are about. Faith is not afraid to work because there is no condemnation. Faith without works is dead, “being alone” (James 2:17 KJV).

Are you in a religious system that propagates faith “alone” in the Christian life? Your faith is not only dead, it speaks to what you believe about justification. You believe justification has a progressive aspect and is not completely finished. Secondly, you believe the law has a stake in justification. Thirdly, your system categorizes works as faith alone works (an oxymoron of sorts) or works that are unfiltered in some way and therefore are efforts to “self-justify.”

If you believe the right gospel, you know that it is impossible to unwittingly partake in an endeavor to justify yourself. It’s a metaphysical impossibility—it’s not in the realm of reality. No false religion teaches that you earn your justification by perfect law-keeping—there is always a system that prescribes sanctified do’s and don’ts that in turn fulfill the law for you, otherwise known as “the traditions of men.”

It’s the fallacy of faith alone works for justification. But any work for justification is justification by works whether doing nothing (abstinence is still doing something), something passive (contemplationism or prayer is also a work) or anything active.

Law and justification are mutually exclusive, and true faith is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith works because there is no fear in love (1John 4:18). Don’t be like the servant who was afraid and hid his talents in the ground. Christ said it best:

“If you love me, keep my commandments.”

paul

Why Church is Bogus: Its Denial of New Birth Centrality

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 24, 2016

ppt-jpeg4What’s wrong with church? Let’s be honest; you have been going to church with the same group of people for years, but the spectacle of radical change is conspicuously missing. Failure is the big news, not amazing personal growth. Some of the kids who are growing up in your church turn out ok, others end up completely off the reservation. Week in, and week out, everything is about the gospel, the gospel, the gospel. Church community is really little more than sanctified secularism, and in many cases, indicative of things that are unspeakable among the Gentiles. Church drifts from fad to fad, and functions on a steady diet of new books from celebrity pastors and other guru types. Rather than immersing themselves in the word of God, most pastors just tap into whatever is trending in church culture. Those in denial can point to the “rich personal relationships,” but believe it or not, such relationships are found in abundance among the unsaved as well.

When it gets right down to it, the only difference between the secular world and the church is labeling. Oh, but the church helps the poor? So does the world. But the church has strong marriages? So does the world, and the divorce rate is the same to boot. And, the actual differences are not commendable; often, the secular world is far less tolerant of evil.

Why? Starting as early as the 4th century, the apostolic centrality of the new birth was rejected by the church. The reason is simple: new birth is about the individual. If your literal Father is God, and your Brother is the king of the world, and you are God’s literal offspring, you have something to bring to the table in your own right. Shortly after the passing of the apostles, the church usurped the organized body of God’s family and made it an hierarchical institution.

Gospel centrality became, “Christ died for your sins,” not, “You must be born again.” The new birth, as the standard for righteousness, was replaced with the law. Instead of Christ dying to pave the way for the new birth and true righteousness, He was made, not only the substitution for sin’s debt according to the written code, but also perfect law-keeper so that our righteousness can be according to law and not “apart from the law.” The law as written code therefore remains as opposed to the law’s purpose for sanctification among the born again. Christ alone must fulfill the law with love lest you have “a righteousness of your own.”

In the official soteriology of the church, the new birth is neither here nor there because being made better still doesn’t enable you to keep the law perfectly, so the new birth serves no soteriological purpose whatsoever in the church. For all practical gospel purposes, you remain unchanged, and that’s why church is bogus. The apostles fought this same justification by law tooth and nail while they were alive, and as they warned night and day with tears, it would launch an out-out offensive after their departure. It’s called, “the church.”

It’s not complicated; supposedly, we are no longer under law because Jesus keeps/kept the law for us. Note: we are no longer under the law because the old us that was under the law literally died, not because Jesus keeps the law for us. We are either under law or under grace; it’s one or the other—it can’t be both. And of course this leads to the last days religion of antinomianism because you don’t keep the law—Jesus keeps it for you. That’s why the love of many will wax cold in the last days; churchians don’t love God and others by keeping the law, Jesus supposedly keeps it for them lest it be works justification. This is the invariable formula when justification is not a finished work. Hence, we can expect the church to be divided into two primary groups: antinomians and those tolerant of antinomianism.

ANY gospel that proclaims a substitution for fulfilling the law necessarily denies the new birth outright, or at least redefines it in an other-than-biblical way. The often heard idea that Christ was resurrected to confirm His perfect law-keeping is an egregious false gospel that reflects the same justification by law that, and I will say it again, was the primary nemesis that plagued the apostles.

You see, God tried to make this point with all kinds of manifestations of the Spirit during the apostolic period. Unfortunately, these historical events found in the gospels and the book of Acts are relegated to all kinds of mysticism. Christ wasn’t deity in the flesh because of His perfect law-keeping, he was perfect because he was born into the world by the Spirit through the virgin Mary. Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man, or the first fruits of many made righteous by the new birth—not law-keeping. You are righteous because you are born of the Spirit, not because Jesus kept the law for you. To doubt that a believer is literally reborn by the Spirit is to also doubt, or deny, the Spirit’s like work in the virgin Mary. That’s what the Spirit does, He gives new birth. This is why unbelievers push against salvation; intuitively, they understand that who they presently are will be vanquished resulting in an all new person recreated by God. That’s radical unpredictable change that people fear.

True Christians need to begin focusing on new birth centrality. I had an interesting conversation with my five-year-old grandson while running errands in my car yesterday. The following is my best remembrance of the words:

“Papa, why are you happy all of the time?”

‘Because I am born again.’

“What does that mean?”

‘It means I have been born again into God’s family, it means God is my literal Father and Jesus is my literal brother.’

“What about our family?”

‘When you are born again, you have two families; your earthly family and your family in heaven.’

“I was born by my mommy and daddy, I was in my mommy’s tummy.”

‘Indeed you were,’ but when you are born again, you have two fathers, and many brothers and sisters who are also born into God’s family.’

As I waited for the next reply, it didn’t come, but I could tell Blayne was in deep pondering about the conversation which found me totally off-guard and frankly, ill prepared. Of course, I could have made more of the conversation, and I could have worded my responses better, but it is a start. However, a foundation was laid that can now be invoked in more conversion as we go about life. When he sins, I can now use that to revisit our original conversion and build on it. We need to leave church and the foot of the cross behind, and talk much more about the empty tomb—the hope of future glory and present love.

But the church has little need for the resurrected, because the fellowship of the resurrected is a cooperative body under one truth that operates by individual gifts—not authority. The church is a kingdom of this world striving for its stake in world dominance, for the greater good of course. The kingdom of the resurrected is not of this world, our King and brother is in heaven sitting at the right hand of our Father. The church is just another conquest endeavor of this present world among many others. This requires the following of many men, not the one mediator who is Christ.

In conclusion, if you want to pursue new birth centrality, like me, and if you would be so fortunate, you may have to find you confirmation from the mouths of children. When my daughter Heather was Blayne’s age, she wrote an essay for a school assignment that follows:

“My Dad”

My dad has brown curly hair.

My dad talks about the Lord Jesus.

His voice is a happy voice.

My dad is very happy all the time.

My dad works on cars.

I love you dad.

Funny, this is a much different perspective than I have received from church folks most of my life. According to them, I am an “angry man,” “hateful,” “rude,” “opinionated,” “a know-it-all,” “intolerant,” “an abuser,” etc., etc., etc., etc. More recently, I have been dubbed a “cultist of death” and the leader of a “tyrannical regime.” This is what I have come to learn: children see you more for what you are, adults judge you according to how comfortable you make them. In my book, I will die much better with the testimonies of children. However, there may be some merit to the adult version as children really want to simply know while adults often want to protect an agenda which I find very annoying, and no doubt with rudeness following.

In the final analysis, churchians love death and the testimony of misery. If you are a propagator of life in that culture, do not expect things to go well. Like Christ, you will not be found in the tomb of sin and death, and your glory is not a perpetual gazing at the serpent lifted up in the wilderness. You looked upon it but once, and now your tomb is empty.

paul

The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 12, 2015

Blog Radio LogoOriginally published March 31, 2015

Listen to show or download audio here. 

Listen or download full show uninterrupted. 

Welcome to Blogtalk Radio False Reformation this is your host Paul M. Dohse Sr. Tonight, part 2 of “The Protestant Twisting of 1John: A Clarification.”

How is 1John used to argue for a progressive salvation, and what is John really saying in his epistle? That’s what we are discussing tonight. If you would like to add to our lesson or ask a question, call (347) 855-8317. Per the usual, we will check in with Susan towards the end of the show and listen to her perspective.

If you would like to comment on our subject tonight, you can also email me at paul@ttanc.com. That’s Tom, Tony, Alice, Nancy, cat, paul@ttanc.com. I have my email monitor right here and can add your thoughts to the lesson.

Ok, so this whole idea is very Protestant, that we must keep going back to the same gospel that saved us in order to keep ourselves saved. But, it’s all good because we are going back to the “gospel” and the “gospel” is by faith alone so going back to the gospel is a faith alone work which isn’t really a work. So, it’s ok to do something to keep ourselves saved as long as it’s a faith alone work.

As we discussed last week, here is where the home fellowship movement stands apart from the institutional church: salvation is a finished work; salvation is NOT a progression from point A to point B. The new birth is a onetime instantaneous quickening of the believer. The believer then in fact does move on to something completely different—kingdom living, or discipleship. Central to Protestantism is the idea that moving on from the gospel to doctrinal maturity is an abomination. The who’s who of Protestantism can be cited many times in stating this in no uncertain terms.

The home fellowship movement is not a mere preference over the institutional church—it is an anti-progressive justification movement. It is a return to the true gospel of Christ. All of the institutional church either embraces progressive justification or is willing to fellowship with it and is therefore altogether guilty.

Last week, we also introduced the fact that 1John must be interpreted according to its historical context. The number one nemesis of the 1st century assemblies was Gnosticism and 1John is a treatise against it. We covered John’s introduction which was a direct pushback against the Gnostic idea that the spiritual Christ did not die on the cross. We believe that John was specifically addressing the Gnostic teachings of Cerinthus. He taught that there was more than one Christ; one born naturally of human parents that will be resurrected with all other men in the last days, and the spiritual Christ who dwells in heaven. Elsewhere, John wrote:

1John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

The very definition of antichrist teachings is the denial that the true Christ (Messiah) was part of the material world, or actually came in the flesh. Gnostic systems of thought are very complex, but the cardinal principle is that material is evil and the spiritual or invisible is good.

The important distinction is that biblically, the material creation is not inherently evil, but weak. This is an important distinction because Christ coming as man makes it possible for men to be literally recreated and part of God’s literal family. The teaching that “denies Jesus is the Christ” (Messiah: 1Jn 2:22) circumvents the new birth. Throughout this epistle, John refers to the recipients as “little offsprings”(teknion; little children). I want to dig into this a little deeper; the new birth and its relationship to apostolic succession, but first, let me address the crux issue here.

John was also addressing an aspect of Gnosticism that believed the following: sin only resides in the material, and the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned. In essence, it doesn’t matter what we do in the body because the spiritual part of man is sinless and has never sinned, and that is the only part of man that is eternal anyway. Many scholars concur that this was a common form of Gnosticism. Of course, this disavows any need for Christ to die on the cross and makes the knowledge of this supposed lie salvation itself. Salvation by being made into something new is out—coming to grips with the gnosis regarding man’s inner spark of divinity is in. This backdrop now explains exactly what John was getting at in 1John 1:7-10 and 2:1,2.

1John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

1John 2:1 – “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

“We” in these verses should be viewed as speaking to mankind in general while including both saved and unsaved individuals. Recognizing that Christ came to deal with man’s sin problem is efficacious to the gospel.

John is NOT stating the Protestant gospel of “deep repentance” which teaches that we keep ourselves saved (or washed) via a “lifestyle of repentance.” That would be a perpetual return to the same gospel that saved us for relief from “present sin.” That flies in the face of biblical justification. This makes “if” in these verses a conditional conjunction. That would mean that our sins continue to be forgiven, or washed, or cleansed “if” we “walk in the light” and continue to repent. That’s clearly works salvation, and clearly a reapplication of Christ’s sacrifice to present sin. As actually taught in Protestant circles, the sacrifice only happened once, but the remembrance of it continues to cleanse present and future sins.

This is the whole deal behind, “We must preach the gospel to ourselves every day” and the vital union doctrine. Living a “lifestyle of repentance” or deep repentance “keeps us in the love of Jesus.” This is salvation by Jesus + deep repentance to keep ourselves saved. The Reformed say, “No, it’s not works because repentance is a faith alone work,” but not even a so-called faith alone work can keep you born again—you can’t unborn yourself by not doing something. Look, here is the money point on all of this: the needed present and future forgiveness can only be found in the Protestant institutional church via baptism/formal membership. And we will be addressing that a little further along.

One of the many problems with this is, in regard to believers, follows: in order for present sin to exist, there has to be a law, and the blood of Christ ended the law—it’s a onetime cleansing. To have some need to reapply the blood of Christ to present sin implies that there is still sin, and there is not because where there is no law—there is no sin, and Christ died on the cross to end the law. This fact is found in Romans 3:19,20, 4:15, 5:13, 7:8, 10:4.

Some insist that John’s context here is fellowship, and since fellowship is the context, John is writing about repentance that is necessary to keep us in proper family relationship with God, and not a repentance that keeps us in the family of God; ie., John is talking about sanctification and not justification. Frankly, that’s the view that I used to hold to as well.

But John is talking about the onetime cleansing that justifies. Note that throughout these verses that it is a forgiveness that cleanses from “all sin” and “all unrighteousness.” That has to be justification. What John is saying is that no matter who you are in humanity, you have need to be forgiven of sin by believing that Jesus is the Christ and died for you. Note the subjects of these verses: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”

However, John is also saying that this fact doesn’t give us a license to sin any more than the Gnostics, “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But watch this: “But if anyone does sin, we [everyone] have an advocate with the Father.” Ok John, an advocate for what purpose? Answer: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Who are the subjects? It’s obvious who the subjects are.

If this isn’t speaking to a onetime cleansing of sin, the world doesn’t need the new birth any more than Christians—they only need to ask forgiveness so the blood of Christ will be applied to the particular sin. Not only that, the new birth is also disavowed through the denial of a new creaturehood displayed by people who have passed from death to life. And John is speaking directly towards this issue as well. You see, who the “we” are and what the “if” is—is critical to interpreting these verses properly. The “we” are the “anyone.” The “if” is a cause and effect conjunction and not a conditional conjunction.

And let me tell you something, Protestant theologians rarely have any qualms about saying that God’s promises are conditional. I mean, what’s the paramount example? Replacement theology/supersessionism, right? This whole idea that Israel’s election was conditional on them holding up their end of the covenant. I just don’t know what can be more obvious, and this is their exact take on justification as well.

This is the crux. John is saying that if we walk in the light, it’s because we have been born again, not that we keep ourselves born again if we do our part by walking in the light. Walking in the light is not our part of the so-called vital union, we walk in the light because that’s what new creatures do; cows like hay and ducks like water—it’s a cause and effect conjunction not a conditional conjunction.

Now, here is where we really struggle with these verses: in verse 7, the English word in the plural strongly suggests a present continuous action. Verse 9 really isn’t that much of a problem as it’s merely saying that anyone that confesses their sin is cleansed of all unrighteousness. Note the following verse 10 that can be rendered this way: “If we say we have not [never] sinned.” The English “ed’ on the end of sin indicates past tense like, “I sinned.” That’s past tense. If John is speaking to the present continuance, why would he have not written, “if we say that we do not sin.” Right? Verse 9 simply fits into the Gnostic motif that John was arguing against.

Neither is 1John 2:1, 2 a problem. John is simply stating that anyone who recognizes their sin and wants to do something about it has an advocate in Christ who cleanses all sin. And by the way, the rest of John’s letter backs up my Pauline argument to the hilt. Just, all over the place in the rest of the letter, for example,

1John 3:3 – “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”

He came to “take away sin,” not to cover it with His own righteousness and to continue to forgive it. Christ came to end sin altogether. Are we “in Christ”? Well, in Him there is NO sin. So if we are in Him, why would we need forgiveness for present or future sin in regard to justification? In 1John 2:12-14, forgiveness of sin and overcoming the evil one is spoken of in the past tense.

The only matter at hand is the word “cleanses” in verse 7.  Let me point something out to you. Most of the English translations that we have come out of the Protestant Reformation. Therefore, and there are myriads of examples of this, the translations are tainted with progressive justification presuppositions. And unfortunately, this includes the Greek word-study helps. Here is something I read in one:

Every encounter with a command to obey, is our opportunity to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Supernatural commands from the supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don’t let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His help is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of a little “push” so to speak.

See the problem? You can know the Greek backwards and forwards, but what good does it do if “help” doesn’t mean “help”? Look, what good have all of the Protestant Greek scholars done for us? I came to realize the problem of progressive justification by my own independent study in Romans. The basic concept easily understood regardless of the language, “where there is no law there is no sin.” That statement astounded me, but was the key to unraveling the whole mystery. Once you understand that fundamental, the rest of the Bible, when taken in context, fits together perfectly in every way. How much did any knowledge of Greek aid me in this understanding? Nada. Goose egg. Zilch. Loco zippo.

Greek can be confirming, and helpful, but the Bible is written in definitive structures that mean the same thing in all languages and that is no accident. You can translate the fact that Christ died on the cross to end the law, and where there is no law there is no sin, any way you want to—it’s going to mean the same thing in any language. Then you start seeing where the concept fits together with everything else in the Bible which enables you to nail down what the anomalies are. And a lot of the anomalies are bias towards a certain worldview.

Notice in the example I gave there is no room given for an authentic colaboring between us and the Holy Spirit. It is either all us or all of the Holy Spirit. My friends, that is the Protestant redemptive-historical worldview to a T and it is fundamentally Gnostic in its premise. Hence, when you use Greek word-study helps, you are often dealing with the same bias. This is why I eventually threw away my Kenneth Wuest expanded New Testament translation. I started seeing clear bias in how he processed the Greek verbs and I was totally done with him at that point.

I spent the better part of yesterday researching 1John 1:7 and the word “cleanses” therein. We know from biblical context that this verse cannot be saying that the one sacrifice of Christ continues to rewash us IF we continue to walk in the light; ie., Protestantism. And let me give you the thumbnail: if you remain faithful to the institutional church and its sacraments/ordinances, that keeps you saved. Even if the Greek usage indicates a present continual action there is no way to distinguish that from the simple reality of being washed once and remaining clean thereafter. In other words, there is no way to definitively distinguish between two intents: a required reapplication to reinstate a status or an unchanged status that continues in the same state without any further action.

Though “cleanses” appears to be some kind of continuing action in the ESV version of 1John 1:7 as well as many other versions, we know that this same cleansing of regeneration is clearly stated as a onetime final act in many, many other Bible passages. For example,

1 Corinthians 6:11- “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Ok, you have “were” in there four times with sinful lifestyles being in the past tense, and sanctified, justified, and “washed” being in the present tense. It is one event that happens one time and transforms us into an immutable state. Period. This is irrefutable. And by the way, if you do a New Testament word search on the exact form of the Greek word “cleanses” (other translations “cleanseth”) in 1John 1:7, it is almost always used as a onetime ceremonial cleansing.

Matthew 8:2 – “And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, ” Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” [Here in Mathew 8:2, the same exact form of the Greek word is used for past, present, and future tense. “Ed” is added to the English word “cleansed” to indicate past tense].

Note how Young’s Literal Translation has 1John 1:7.

“and if in the light we may walk, as He is in the light — we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son doth cleanse us from every sin;”

Now, not only does this simply state the fact that the blood of Christ cleanses us from every sin with a much less conditional translation, it’s interesting that the YLT picks up on something that Andy related to me yesterday in regard to the word “may”:

What is interesting is that all of the examples that John uses where he says “if” are all 3rd class conditions.  All the key verbs are in the subjunctive mood.

Here is an excerpt regarding 3rd class conditions…

“The third class condition often presents the condition as uncertain of fulfillment, but still likely.  There are, however, many exceptions to this…The third class condition encompasses a broad range of potentialities in Koine Greek. It depicts what is likely to occur in the future, what could possibly occur, or even what is only hypothetical and will not occur” (Wallace, p. 696).

So John is really posing a series of future hypothetical situations. Any place where it says “if” you should read it as “if ever in the future…” or “if at any time in the future…”

It would appear that this seems to be an exercise in reason using hypothetical examples to refute the gnostics that were among them in those assemblies. Notice that the present tense verbs are present tense because they are in the conclusion (apodosis) to the proposed hypothetical conditional premise (protasis). But the verbs in the premise (protasis) are in the subjunctive mood.

Also, you cannot read verse 7 without verse 6.  Verse 7 is an antithetical conclusion of verse 6. In other words, you can’t properly interpret vs 7 without vs 6. In fact, notice how 7 contrasts 6, AND vs 9 contrasts vs 8 also!  They are parallel arguments, and then vs 10 kind of sums it up.

This bolsters my contention that John is addressing people in general regarding the ramifications of their beliefs about sin in contrast to Gnosticism. That’s the crux here: the backdrop is the Gnosticism John is addressing. If you say that you have no sin, for whatever reason, you are making God out to be a liar. But if you confess your sin, God will cleanse you from all unrightousness. And, that will have an effect on your life because you have been cleansed. John does not hone-in on the new birth right here, but does so in chapter 3 bigtime. Really, chapter 3 clarifies exactly what is being stated in the first two chapters.

In addition, John is saying that even though those who confess their sin are cleansed of all sin, that is not a different kind of license to sin without ramifications. Hence, “…I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” But if you do recognize that you have sin, we have an advocate with the Father that is a propitiation for all sin, those who confess that they have sin, and those who may in the future confess that they have sin—this is what is going on in this passage. And by the way, this is another refutation of limited atonement as well.

Let me give another example that might help clarify all of this. One Reformed fellow (a disciple of Paul David Tripp) arguing against me in regard to all of this stated the following:

In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually. The substance that refreshes is the same (Christ’s salvation, in an ongoing manner)…For Calvin, the cleaning is ongoing, because there WILL be new sins, and 1 John tells us there are new sins. WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.

See the problem with not interpreting this passage in its historical context? John isn’t talking about “new sins,” he is talking about SIN period. Where is there anything stated in this passage in regard to “new sins”? What relevance does “new sins” have with the unsaved world that is one of the subjects of this passage? The unsaved have “new sins”?

Also, Christians do not have “new sins” because Christ ended the law and where there is no law there is no sin. This is exactly why the Protestant gospel keeps people under law—the whole concept of “new sin.”

In addition, notice what he states about John 4 that is a common Reformed position:

“In John 4, we are to drink once, but that one drink becomes a reserve that refreshes continually.”

This statement is a common smoking gun that damns Protestantism. In that passage, Jesus said that those who drink of the water will never… (what?) again? Right, they will NEVER “thirst” again. Christians may need refreshment against the weakness of the flesh, but we never need our justification to be refreshed—that’s just a blatant false gospel.

Moreover, note, “WERE IT NOT FOR the ongoing cleaning and forgiveness, we would exit the family of God, but the faithful know of a certainty that this cleansing is ongoing and present.” This is where the “if(s)” of 1John totally shoot Protestantism in its gospel foot. If you take this approach, the if(s) of 1John 1:7-2:2 are conditional upon confessing “new sins.” This clearly makes the cleansing of sin that makes us part of God’s family conditional. It makes the new birth conditional. “If” we don’t confess, we can be unborn.

Doesn’t it make much more sense if John is saying that we (people in general) have to recognize that men have sin in order to receive a cleansing from it? Sure it does. John is pushing back against a philosophy that taught the following: man is spirit and therefore without sin; only the material world has sin. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what people do in the body, it’s all just part of the material world that is passing away. This also rejects the new birth and its righteous lifestyle that walks in the light as Christ is in the light and there is no darkness in Him. Those who walk in the light are born of the light and they are of the light because they recognized the need to confess their sin in order to be cleansed. Hence…

John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Next week, we are going to look at how the rest of the book of 1John fits into this Pauline soteriological schema perfectly. Why does John follow our passage at hand with a discussion of love and then the new birth? How do we get from the gospel anomaly of “new sins” to “love,” and what does that have to do with the new birth? How does all of this make walking in the light synonymous with the new birth?

See you next, and now let’s go to the phones.

TANC 2015 – Andy Young, Session 1: Challenging Presuppositions of the Believer’s Identity

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on September 9, 2015

So I had originally chosen a few other topics on which to speak.   And then several weeks ago Paul and I were chatting on Facebook, and I think it was following something he had just posted on the blog – I don’t remember the exact circumstances now – but I had been sitting there thinking about this, and the thought came to me, “Believers don’t really know who they are!” And I was overcome by the realization of this, how profound this was. Here we are, some 2000 years after, if you want to call it the “birth of Christianity”, some 500 years after the reformation.

What do we have?

  • Grand churches with their grand buildings and their programs
  • Christian schools
  • Christian universities
  • Seminaries turning out all these pastors
  • all these resources

And with all of this, people are sitting in churches Sunday after Sunday, and they still don’t even know who or what they are. They are not aware of the reality of their existence. And that is what it really boils down to is this philosophy of existence. Who are we? What are we? And I don’t want to delve into a fundamental discussion about what is man. That’s a really esoteric subject, and not that it’s not worthy of discussion or that it’s not relevant, but I’ve only got so much time here, and I want to focus on something more specific.

Specifically, what is a Christian? You remember that it was in Antioch of the province of Syria that the term “Christian” was first coined, but not in a good way. It was a pejorative. It was meant as an insult. In the Greek, the word literally translates, “Christ ones”. We can make it sound even more derogatory by saying “christers”. You’re one of those “christers”. One who goes around talking about Christ. It was meant to be an insult. In fact, every time you see the word “Christian” used in the NT, which isn’t often, it is generally used in a negative context.

Of course, the fact that is was meant as an insult is what caused the term to be adopted as badge of honor in later decades and centuries, in a sort of ironic fashion. And to this day the word “Christian” is very common and normal and doesn’t carry the stigma with it. People in churches gladly call themselves Christians. Now granted, in recent years there has been a growing intolerance of what passes for Christianity, but for many years that wasn’t the case. It was almost popular to be a “Christian”.

But we’ve seen, I’d say in the last 10 years or more, a growing animosity towards Christians once again, and that isn’t necessarily for the reasons that we think of immediately. You know the first thing that comes to mind is this conflict between government and religion and the whole separation of church and state issue. But more and more I see that being a secondary issue. What we really have is a growing hatred for those who call themselves “Christians” because of what they represent. And that is, on an institutional level, on a theological level, on a philosophical level, it has to do with this seeming indifference to abuse and suffering both inside and outside the institution. Christians are viewed as uncaring and insensitive. You have Hollywood actors referring to God as a sadistic monster. And I can’t necessarily blame them for that kind of assessment. You look at the way “Christians” behave, especially toward each other.

And if you don’t believe me, watch what happens when you try to ask a question in Sunday school that questions the orthodox position. Or you leave a church over doctrinal matters and see how many of those people who you thought were friends continue to have contact with you. Or you watch how downright vicious they get with you when you try to present a rational argument in a Facebook discussion. One has to ask themselves, if they treat a fellow brother like that, how do they treat a lost person? How do they treat someone they are trying to evangelize?

And you don’t think the world sees this? You don’t think the world looks at the behavior of Christians, and then we wonder why they don’t want to have anything to do with us. What did Jesus say?

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Does the world see us loving each other? How can they believe anything we have to say? Dear lost person, I want to share with you the gospel because I love you. Oh, like you love that other guy who calls himself a Christian? I see the way you treated him.

The blame for this rests squarely on Augustinian/Reformed/Protestant orthodoxy. Traditional orthodoxy has created a god in its own image that IS without a doubt a sadistic monster. And so as a result, you have followers of this god going around treating people the exact same way that they believe their god treats them. Why should we expect any different. And this is the reason then that the term “Christian” has become a pejorative once again. And it is for this reason why I no longer refer to myself as a “Christian”. I call myself a believer. Or follower of Christ. A disciple of Christ. I prefer believer.

So along those same lines then, this becomes the foundational premise for why those who call themselves “christians” don’t even know who they are. What is the primary defining term that traditional orthodoxy uses today and has used for centuries to determine our identity as believer? When you sit in that pew, or that stadium chair, or whatever kind of seats your church uses, and the pastor/elder/bishop/apostle or whatever he wants to call himself, stands in front of the plexiglass podium, and he’s standing up there, and he’s looking so hip with his goatee or soul patch, in his blue jeans and turtleneck and sports coat and brown suede shoes, and he starts to deliver his sermon, what is the one theme that is driven home to you over and over and over again? What does he want you to know about yourself? What are you?

SINNER!

This is the theme. This is what defines you. It’s in the songs we sing. Only a sinner saved by grace. Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me. I need thee every hour! And I could go on. We see it in the pithy little memes on Facebook. Here’s one I saw recently….I’m not a christian because I am strong and have it all together…Of course the question we should immediately ask ourselves is, why do Christians need a savior? But we never ask those questions, do we?   Here’s another one. I’m not that perfect Christian, I’m the one who knows I need Jesus. Of course there’s a subtle snarkiness to this one. It’s almost a kind of holier-than-thou attitude. It almost seems to contradict the very humility it’s supposed to be trying to convey. I’m so humble that I know I’m not perfect, but at the same time, I know something you don’t know. I know I need Jesus and you don’t. And of course at first glance, no one is going to argue with that. How can you say you don’t need Jesus? But what they don’t realize is that, wait a second, believers already have Jesus. We’re already saved. Why do I need a savior over and over? But you will see this theme over and over all over the place. Don’t forget, Christian, you’re a sinner!

Now of course what do they mean by that? Well they say, well I still sin. Right. They like to ask that question. Did you sin today? Then you’re a sinner. And of course they think they trick you when they ask you that question. They think they’re being clever if you come to them with some notion of righteousness. And of course their mistake there is equating righteousness with obeying the law.

But the fundamental flaw in this assumption about being a sinner is this. If you make this your assumption that because you sin you are therefore a sinner, what you are doing is allowing your identity to be defined by a practice or a behavior. (let me say that again.) You are allowing your identity to be defined by a practice or a behavior.

Now on a certain level this is not necessarily incorrect. This is something we do all the time in our everyday life. We tend to categorize ourselves and others by what we do. We do this in our jobs. I have my own business. I earn my living by cooking food. So since that is a behavior in which I engage, I can legitimately say, I am a cook. Or Paul writes for a blog, therefore Paul is a blogger. Or Cam Newton plays football for the Carolina Panthers, therefore Cam Newton is a football player. (I threw that one in there for Zach). Ok, all of these are examples of behaviors or activities that we use to categorize each other and to compare ourselves with others to help organize our world, and so all of these things are true. But do those things define us as individuals? In other words, aren’t we more than just cook, or blogger, or football player?

There is a tendency to divide people up in to groups and call them “communities”. And these so-called “communities” are defined by the behaviors and actions of those who would identify with them. And so what ultimately ends up happening is you have those who say they are part of this “community” as if everything they are, who they are, is defined solely by the behaviors that are common to those in this community. The LGBT crowd is a great example of this. How do they refer to themselves? They say the LGBT “community”. Well what does that mean? Their whole identity is wrapped up in a specific behavior. Now I’m not going to get into, is this a choice or are they born this way, that’s irrelevant to this point. Even if you assume you are born this way, it is still a behavior, and you are choosing a behavior to be the basis of your identity.

Why don’t we do this with other behaviors? Why don’t we have a pedophile community? Why don’t we talk about the serial killer community? Or the alchoholic community? And I’ll stop there because I don’t want to go too far and have the analogy fall apart, but I think you should begin to see the point I’m trying to make here. We don’t define ourselves by our behavior. And this has tremendous ramifications.

So how do we define ourselves? I think a great place to start is asking how does God define himself? Is God defined by His attributes? We say God is love, God is just, God is holy, God is immutable. But again, is this how God is defined, or are these all abstract concepts that man has assigned to God to help organize the world around him, and so we create these aspects of God so that we can try to understand Him? How did God define Himself? How does God identify Himself?

Moses asked this very question at the burning bush. You remember that he was to be the leader of Israel, and he was concerned that they would not follow him, and he asked God, who should I tell them sent me? How will they know You sent me? And so in Exodus 3:14 God answers Moses, and He says:

Exodus 3:14 “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

God said, I exist! Do you realize what a profound declaration that is? God was not just being coy with Moses. In this simple three-word declaration in Hebrew, God was establishing the fundamental definition of self. I EXIST. Who am I? I am me. I am who I am. I exist! That is such a profound declaration. To declare your own existence is to acknowledge your right to self. But there is even more to this, as I was discussing this very point with Zach last week, as he pointed out, and I agree, that there is a corollary to this truth. That when God declared I EXIST, at the same time He declared, YOU EXIST. To recognize self also means to recognize the existence of other “selfs”. This is especially profound when we consider that God made man in His image. That God is “self” also means that man is self. So that man can also legitimately declare, I exist! I am! And because he can declare this, he must also recognize other “selfs”.

So if we truly understand this, we can see that man cannot be legitimately defined by actions or behaviors. He can only be defined as “self”. He is who he is. Who am I? I am me. You are you. That is who I am. That is the definition of my existence. You can categorize me anyway you want, but that is not who I am. And I’ll let you ponder all the ramifications of that.

But this is where we must start before we can even begin to discuss who we are as believers. What is means to be born again. Because first and foremost we are creatures made in God’s image whether we are born again or not. Everything I just said must be true of all mankind. We have to begin with the right assumption about man in general. Only then can we have a valid discussion and understanding about who we are as believers.

So that was a big long introduction. And now we’re finally ready to get into the meat of this whole topic. But that was some necessary ground work. So, as believers, who are we, really? If we are not defined as “sinners”, if we are not defined by behavior, who are we then?

Born again

I want to start off with this right here. This single statement by the apostle Paul is the single-most emphatic statement regarding the reality of the new birth.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

In fact the structure of this verse in the Greek is rather interesting. I’m not going to get into a deep study of the grammatical structure of this verse, but there are a couple things I want to point out for starters. Most obvious in this verse is this contrast Paul uses between old and new. And I’m going to speak in depth on this contrast in the next session. But what I want you to see here are the words that Paul uses to express this contrast.

First of all, the “old things”. Now Paul uses a word here that is rarely used for “old”. In the NT there is another Greek word for “old”.

“Old” – παλαιος (pal-ay-OS) – antique, not recent, worn out. Paleontology.

This is the word used most frequently. In other words, when you are reading through the NT and you see the word “old”, most of the time it’s going to be this word “palaeos”. What is worth noting here about this word is that there is an age aspect involved. So this is old with respect to age. I might say, my grandfather is “old”. Or my car is “old”. I’m talking about it being old in years or months or whatever. And like I said I’ll talk more about this in the next session.

But Paul uses a different word here. And this is the word:

αρχαια (ar-KAY-ah) – original, that which was from the beginning, the former.

This is old not with respect to age but with respect to comparison. Someone might talk about his old school or his old job, or his old girlfriend. Now the old girlfriend might not like being referred to as “old”, but in this context we mean former or previous. This is the idea behind the word “archaiah”. So when Paul talks about the old things, he’s talking about the former things or the previous things. Now this is going to be important to understand later on when we talk about this again in the next session, because there is a time aspect involved in that we are referring to something that was in the past, but we are not specifically referencing the age of something. OK? So keep this in mind, we are differentiating between previous things and the age of something.

So Paul contrasts these old things, or these former things, or these previous things, with new things. He says all things are become new.

“New” – καινος (kay-NOS) – new with respect to freshness as opposed to age. Different. A replacement.

“He got a new job”. “My son just transferred to a new school.” “He has a new girlfriend”. You see the meaning here? We’re not talking about the age of something. When I say he got a new job I don’t mean a job that didn’t exist before. Although that could be the case, but fundamentally I’m referring to it being different. Different from the one he had before. This word presents the perfect inverse comparison with “archaiah”. It’s a comparison not of age but to indicate a difference or a distinction between the two. He left his old job; he started his new job. He left his old school; he’s going to a new school (Not one that was just built). He broke up with his old girlfriend; he’s dating a new girlfriend (not one that was just…what? can we say born? Let’s hope not. But you get the idea.)

It’s a profound distinctiveness. There is nothing that remains of the former. You don’t keep any of it around for sentimental reasons. It’s not like you took that which is former and restored it. Or rehabilitated it. No, you completely eliminated the former, the previous, in exchange for a different one. You have something now that is different from what you used to have. And this is a description of the new birth.

Jesus taught this very thing. In the middle of the night, a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Jesus to ask him questions about His teaching. And he came at night because he didn’t want to be seen talking with Jesus. It would not have been good for him to be seen with Jesus. Because Nicodemus was genuinely interested in what Jesus had to say. And almost immediately Jesus responds to Nicodemus by teaching him about the new birth. He says In John 3:

John 3:3-7 “Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?’ 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.’ ”

This expression that Jesus uses is two words in the Greek.

γενναω ανοθεν (gen-AH-oh AN-oh-then) – to be born on high, from above

Now Peter takes this expression that Jesus uses, born from above, and he takes that idea with the proper understanding uses a different word altogether. He takes the word “genAHoh”, and combines that with the prefix “ana”, which if it’s used alone it means “up”. But when you combine it as the prefix of another word it adds a meaning of repetition or intensity. So in 1 Peter 1:23, Peter uses the word

αναγενναω (an-a-gen-AH-oh) – to be born again, to be reborn.

1 Peter 1:23 “Being born again, (αναγενναω) not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”

These are the only two passages in the NT where you will see the expression “born again”.  It is important for believers to realize they are born again. Why? How is this significant regarding a believer’s identity? Well here it is. Being born again is the basis for righteousness. Let’s run through this again. Why did Jesus die? Did Jesus die to shed his blood to be a covering for our sin? No, Jesus died to end the law. Specifically the law of sin and death. Jesus didn’t cover our sin, He took it away, as far as the east is from the west. What did John the Baptizer say when he saw Jesus coming? “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world!” This is the imagery of the scapegoat from Leviticus 16. You remember this? (See video below, mark 37:00, for summary of the scapegoat).

This is what Christ did for us. When he died he ended the law and took away all our sins. They aren’t covered, they are gone! Because what happens when we believe? When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, the old man dies. That old man that was under law is dead. The law can’t touch him any more. He was crucified with Christ. And a new man is resurrected in his place. A new man is reborn. The old law of sin and death can’t touch him. And where there is no law there is no sin. Where there is no sin there is no condemnation. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. There is no condemnation for the new man. There is no condemnation for the one who is born again because there is no sin because there is no law to condemn him. I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but I want this to be clear. I want you to get this.

Now if that wasn’t exciting enough, consider this. You tell this to any of your protestant/reformed friends, you tell them that you are righteous – not just positionally righteous, or forensically righteous, or declared righteous, but that you ARE righteous. That’s your identity. Righteous. Righteous because you are born again. What’s the first they will say to you? “Well did you sin today?” And they are so smug when they say that. They say it like they just gotcha. Ah ha! See! And if you say, no I didn’t sin, then they will immediately pull out 1 John 1:8

1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Of course this is a proof text taken out of context, but they won’t hear you on that because it doesn’t fit in with their reality. Remember what is their reality? What is man? For that matter what are believers? SINNERS. To them, that is our identity. But let me show you something else John said in that same letter. And I tell you, I’ve read this passage in 1 John many times, and I’ve struggled with it, but then I was preparing this lesson, and I had one of those lightbulb moments, and my jaw hit the floor! And the reality of what I read just thrilled me! And I’m like, of course! That’s it! Let me show you this. Look at 1 John 3:8. Let’s start with that first.

1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

Now the protestant/reformed crowd has a hard time with that verse because that would suggest that if believers still sin then we are still of the devil and not really saved. So they reinterpret it to better fit the orthodoxy. In fact the ESV translates that verse by saying “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning”. So the idea is that a believer sins, but he doesn’t make a practice of sinning. Which,if you think about it, is still an outright contradiction because according to them if it is our nature to sin then we can’t help it anyway, so calling it a practice means that somehow you can choose not to. So this is just one more example of the blatant hypocrisy in reformed doctrine. They play these word games with the text and try to get you to think they don’t really mean what they say.

But then we come to verse 9, and this is where the lightbulb went on. Remember we’re working with the conclusion where there is no law there is no sin. Did you sin today? You can state most emphatically, NO! Why?

1 John 3:9 “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

Do you realize what this says? The reality of this is incredible! John says plainly, the born again believer does not sin. Not only that, he CANNOT sin! Is this talking about ability? One would think so, but think about what this has to do with the law? Where there is no law there is no sin. The believer CANNOT sin because there IS no sin! This is yet another contrast between the old and the new. Verse 8 and 9. Verse 8 is the old. Before you were born again you committed sin because you were under law. The law condemned you. Therefore you were of the devil. But that was then. The old passed away (the previous, the former). It was replaced with the new (something different). You were reborn and the law was ended and sin was taken away. Therefore you CAN no longer sin because there IS no sin. But it doesn’t end there. John goes on later in the letter and says the same thing again.

1 John 5:1 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.”

Again, talking about the new birth. Who is the one that begat? That would be God, the Father. We are born of God. Not only do we love the one who begat us, ok, not only do we love the Father, but we also love others, we love everyone else who is also born again. We’ll talk about this some more later on in another session as well. So we have the reality of the new birth once again. But then he continues. Look at verse 18 same chapter.

1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”

Do you see how all of this so wonderfully fits together with the rest of what scripture teaches! How wonderfully consistent this is when we understand it in context. There is no conflict here. We don’t have to twist the words around to make it fit. It is logically consistent. This is the reason why believers are righteous. This is why we can say without a doubt, nope, I didn’t sin today. I am not condemned today. See and that’s really what they are talking about when it comes right down to it.   Sin has to do with condemnation and judgment. Their reality says that when you sin, you need another covering to keep you from being condemned. But you see, this is what they don’t get about it.

So, what is our identity as believers? Are we sinners? No, we are born again. We are righteous. We cannot sin because there is no sin. The law was ended and our sins were taken away. We are truly righteous by virtue of our new birth.   Do you see how important this is to understand? This reality alone is so liberating. Once believers come to the realization of who they are because of the new birth and what that actually means. This has got to be such an encouragement. To get out from underneath this burden of being constantly reminded that you’re a sinner, you’re a sinner, you’re a sinner, and to suddenly realize that no, I cannot sin. Not just I do not sin, but I cannot sin. How tremendously freeing that has to be for someone who’s been told otherwise all his life. So that is where I’m going to stop for this session. We’ll look at some more examples of the believer’s identity in the next session.

Session 1, Blog TalkRadio Podcast (more…)

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